UK bookmakers have received an unexpected fillip from the 2012 Olympic Games being hosted in London, with betting activity far exceeding pre-Games projections.
Ladbrokes has forecast the sector will turn over close to £80m for the two-week period, 20 times the £4m bet on the Beijing Games four years ago, according to figures released to the Telegraph. Betfair also reported that the number of customers betting on the Games doubled to nearly 100,000, with 19,000 placing bets on Blue Riband event the Men’s 100-metre final.
The welcome windfall followed UK bookmakers consistently reiterating the point to investors that the 2012 Games were expected to attract little betting action from punters compared to this summer’s major betting event, the European 2012 Football Championships.
The Euros however proved disappointing to leading UK bookmakers such as William Hill and Ladbrokes, due to a heavily loss-making second week in which favourites scored big wins and England won two games on the bounce and unexpectedly topped their qualifying group.
William Hill CEO Ralph Topping did however hint at a change of heart by UK bookmakers towards the Olympics as a betting opportunity on the opening day of the 30th Olympiad, telling investors at the company’s first half earnings that the top events were expected to attract plenty of interest from gamblers.